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Objective 2:
Complex Societies
Mesopotamia and
the Indo-European
Migrations
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Was Civilization a “curse” or “blessing”?
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What causes societies to rise and fall?
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“Success” or “failure” of civilizations—
law of the “retarding lead”
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What is the role of race in history?

What is the role of cultural diffusion?
2
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The origins of agriculture and domestic animals. The development of agriculture and
the domestication of animals took place independently in different parts of the world, but the
Near East, Mesoamerica, southeast Asia, and China were among the first and most
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Complex Societies began in seven areas, independently, the earliest in River Valleys-Tigris/Euphrates, Nile, Indus, Huang He (Yellow River), Niger, (Mexico and Andes
Mountains)
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Mesopotamia
Egypt
Indus
China
Mediterranean
Central America
Fossil Fuel Civ.
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Mesopotamian City-States
“Between the Rivers”
Tigris and Euphrates
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Cultural continuum of
“fertile crescent”
Ur
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What were the advantages of
cities?
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Security
Variety
Creativity
Productivity
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“Crossroads of Planet Earth”
Scientific American
By 2050, An Urban Planet
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Worldwide population will be 9.5 billion,
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up from the current.6.5 billion.
From 2007 on, urban people will outnumber
rural people.
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The proportion of people living in developing countries versus developed ones will have
increased.
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“In effect, the poor countries will have to build the equivalent of a city of more than one million people
each week for the next 45 years.”
“In 1950 the less developed regions had roughly twice the population of the more developed ones;
by 2050, the ration will exceed 6 to 1.”
The graying of the global population will not have proceeded uniformly.

“In 2050 nearly one person in three will be 60 years or older in the more developed regions, and one
person in five in the less developed nations.”
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Complex Societies
(Civilization) Defined
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Urban-Cities
Formalized Political/military system
Social stratification
Economic specialization and trade
Organized Religion-“Higher Culture”
Patriarchy (Gender Relations)
Writing
Education, Literacy and Learning
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The Ziggurat of Ur
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Law Code of Hammurabi
Law Code of Hammurabi
The principal collection of laws in
ancient Mesopotamia was the code of
Hammurabi, the Babylonian ruler.
Unearthed by French archaeologists in
1901-1902, this stele contained the code,
which Hammurabi claimed rested on the
authority of the gods. (Hirmer Verlag
Munich)
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Copyright
© Houghton
Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Reproduction
or Display.
Questions
What values does your law reflect?
Is your law similar to one followed
in America today?
Why or why not?
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Legal System
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The Code of Hammurabi (18th c. BCE)
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282 items
lex talionis (item 196: “eye for an eye”)
Social status and punishment
women as property, but some rights
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Mesopotamian Empires
1800-600 BCE
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Mesopotamian trade. The Sumerian trading network, revealed by the wide range of
valuable and exotic materials used by Mesopotamian craftsmen, was both extensive and
sophisticated, drawing on resources often well over 2000 miles distant. Egyptian tomb
paintings show Semitic merchants with donkey caravans, while some of the earliest writing is
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found on SumerianCopyright
clay tablets
recording commercial transactions.
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Ishtar Gates and Processional
Way – Babylon (“Babil”)
Berlin Statsmuseum
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Copyright © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. Permission Required for Reproduction or Display.
Social Classes
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Ruling classes based often on military prowess
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Religious classes
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Role: intervention with gods to ensure fertility, safety
Considerable landholdings, other economic activities
Free commoners
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Originally elected, later hereditary
Perceived as offspring of gods
Peasant cultivators
Some urban professionals
Slaves
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Prisoners of war, convicted criminals, debtors
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Patriarchal Society
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Men as landowners, relationship to status
Patriarchy: “rule of the father”
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Double standard of sexual morality
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Women drowned for adultery
Relaxed sexual mores for men
Yet some possibilities of social mobility for women
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Right to sell wives, children
Court advisers, temple priestesses, economic activity
Introduction of the veil at least c. 1500 BCE
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Technological Development in
Mesopotamia
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Bronze (copper with tin), c. 4000 BCE
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Iron, c. 1000 BCE
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Military, agricultural applications
Cheaper than bronze
Wheel, boats, c. 3500 BCE
Shipbuilding increases trade networks
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Cuneiform Writing on
walls of Ishtar Gates,
Babylon
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Development of Writing
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Sumerian writing systems form 3500 BCE
Pictographs
Cuneiform: “wedge-shaped”
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Preservation of documents on clay
Declines from 400 BCE with spread of Greek
alphabetic script
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Writing was invented in west Asia in the fourth millennium b.c.e. and developed from the
need to keep a record of business transactions. From the wedge-shaped marks formed by a
hollow-shaped reed, or stylus, cuneiform script evolved gradually. In this pictographic script,
stylized drawings are used to represent words; each pictograph stands for a syllable, and
abstract concepts are conveyed by using concrete notions that are close in meaning (e.g.
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“open mouth” for “eat”).
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Uses for Writing
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Trade
Astronomy
Mathematics
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Agricultural applications
Calculation of time
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12-month year
24-hour day, 60-minute hour
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The Indo-European Migrations
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Indo-European Migrations
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Common roots of many languages of Europe,
southwest Asia, India
Implies influence of a single Indo-European
people
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Probable original homeland: contemporary Ukraine
and Russia, 4500-2500 BCE
Domestication of horses, use of Sumerian
weaponry allowed them to spread widely
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Implications of Indo-European Migration
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Hittites migrate to central Anatolia, c. 1900 BCE, later
dominate Babylonia
Influence on trade
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Horses, chariots with spoked wheels, use of Iron
Iron
Migrations to western China, Greece, Italy also significant
Influence on language and culture
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Aryo, “noble, lord”
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Aryan, Iranian, Irish
Caste system in India
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